This is a documentary about famed movie critic and Pullitzer winning writer Roger Ebert, who finally succumbed to cancer last year, after a long admirable battle in which he continued his creative work till the penultimate day. It is an affectionate and admiring portrait by people close to him, including many who got their professional breaks through him. I also had a prolonged online interaction with him and remember him as an extremely intelligent and warm person, with strong and clear opinions about all things. Seeing this film was like connecting the dotted lines of the mental picture of him that I carry.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Two sisters connected by bonds of love and hate are stranded in a country whose language they do not know. One of them is very ill and broods about dying: the second is equally consumed by desire. The multitude of hotel staff are a mute chorus, to better focus on the emotional drama of the sisters. Tanks rumble in the streets. This third of a so called trilogy is unclouded by philosophical musings, and is an unadorned study of human beings in a godless world. Sven Nyquist's photography captures the drama enacted on the canvas of the human face.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A family takes a vacation on a lonely island. The daughter, Karen, suffers from a mental illness, which is predicted to lead to a slow and sure disintegration. Her younger brother, father and husband are the others in this drama. In this caricature of insanity, the question of meaning is raised. A kind of answer is also proposed in the final moments; love, he says, even if God is not there, can provide this meaning. Ebert in his Great Movie review, points out that it is in his power of portraying the human face that Bergman excels. A disadvantage of depending on subtitles is that things like this are relegated.
Monday, July 21, 2014
A swiftly flowing stream, a train passing, are symbols of time passing. The film opens with an agonizingly prolonged church service, attended by half a dozen. All, including the priest, are doubters in their own way. A sailor shoots himself, unable to reconcile the reality of evil with god's existence. Even Christ, we are reminded, was assailed by doubt at his final moment. The black and white canvas of a frozen Scandinavian winter, bare trees and icy rivers, adorns this morose and beautiful film.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Alvin Straight , somewhere in seventies, unable to drive, travels several hundred miles on a lawn mower to see his estranged brother, who has had a stroke. The journey takes him some months. This is a story of heroism, immediately reminiscent of Hemingway. On the way, we get to see endlessly sprawling corn fields, and some vivid encounters with good hearted people, who try to help the stubborn man in his eventful journey. A sensitive, uplifting, film, based on a true account.